CARING FOR A LOVED ONE WITH ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE
DEC 17, 2018 @ 12.25 PM
Caregiving for someone with Alzheimer's requires patience and flexibility as each person diagnosed with the disease may experience symptoms and progression differently. However, there are practical tips to help him or her maintain a sense of independence and dignity as they become dependent on you and other family members.
“These are ingrained in us as parents of a young child. It just needs to be translated to someone who is losing ability, so that they become functional throughout their disease," said Professor Dr Tan Maw Ping (pix), Director for the Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya.
Firstly, communicate openly to parents with dementia and involve them in conversations even in the presence of friends, who would in return follow suite.
"Caregivers need to realise that it is not a shame on the family and that dementia is a normal condition that comes with age. There are many cases where friends join in and take the parent with dementia out or for a walk," revealed Maw Ping.
Creating a routine
Establish a routine to make each day less agitating and confusing. People with Alzheimer's disease can learn and follow routines. Often it is best to schedule tasks, such as bathing or medical appointments, when the person is most alert and refreshed.
"If they've forgotten to eat, remind them and dine with them, so that they would follow suite. This works better compared to forcing them to eat.
"If they've forgotten to use the lavatory, help them recognise the sensation, rather than put them in diapers. You would probably need to pre-empt and remind them that they need to go, perhaps half-an-hour after a cup of coffee. Once it becomes a routine, they would go to the lavatory themselves at the same time every day whether they have the urge or not.
"Allow the person with Alzheimer's disease to have frequent breaks. Schedule more time for tasks so that you don't need to hurry him or her," said Maw Ping.
Allow your loved one to do as much as possible with the least amount of assistance. It can be setting the table with the help of visual cues or even to dress independently once the clothes are laid out in order that they may go on. However, do remember to provide them with choices.
"People with Alzheimer's disease best understand clear, one-step communication, so provide simple instruction. Minimise distractions during conversations to make it easier for them to focus," she added.
As Alzheimer's disease impairs judgment and increases a person's risk of injury, Maw Ping admonished family members and caregivers to promote safety by avoiding scattered rugs, extension cords and any clutter that could cause the person to trip or fall.
Locks should also be installed on cabinets that contain medicine, alcohol, toxic cleaning substances, dangerous utensils and tools. The same applies with matches and lighters.
If your home uses a hot-water heater, check water temperature to prevent burns.
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